By ANTHONY MULOWA –
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu will kick start his international tasks by giving his maiden speech to the 24th African Union (AU) summit tomorrow in Addis Ababa where a series of high-level bilateral meetings have also been lined up on the sidelines of the summit.
Mr Lungu, who will be accompanied by First Lady Esther and Government officials, arrives at Bole international Airport at exactly 13:00 hours local time (12:00 hours Zambian time) today.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta said a number of meetings were lined up for the President.
Ms Sikaneta told journalists at the Zambian Embassy in Ethiopia yesterday that President Lungu would on the sidelines of the summit meet Malawian President Peter Mtharika, his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Congolese head of state Joseph Kabila, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
“The mood here is of excitement. Thank God Zambia had a peaceful election and the country has shown that it is a champion of democracy.
Everyone is congratulating Zambia on successfully holding the presidential election.
“The President has a busy schedule here as he would have bilateral meetings with various African leaders and would also meet heads of delegation for the US and Japan. There are many who have requested to meet him,” she said.
Ms Sikaneta said this year’s AU Summit, whose theme is ‘Year of women’s empowerment and development in Africa’, would focus on women empowerment.
The AU had declared 2015 as a year of empowerment for women so that they could actively participate in their individual countries’ development.
Also on the programme is the 2063 Agenda which would be adopted. The 2063 Agenda spells out steps to be taken as the continent embarks on the confederation of the AU.
The summit of Heads of State and Government leaders would table issues of peace and security.
Member states would also discuss how they could work together to fight terrorism by coming up with new strategies.
Ms Sikaneta said health issues would further take a centre stage with much emphasis on measures to be undertaken to combat the Ebola pandemic which had hit some West African countries.
In this regard, Ms Sikaneta said Africa wanted to set up a centre for disease control and prevention and that Mr Lungu would present a bid for Zambia to host it.
Infrastructure development would also be topical with plans of having high-speed trains to connect all African capitals.
Under infrastructure development, plans are underway to put up big dams to improve on electricity generation and transmission.
The President is expected to meet more than 300 Zambians working for various international organistions in Addis Ababa at the residence of the Ambassador before he departs for Zambia.
Ms Sikaneta said Zambia expected to reap a lot of benefits from the summit which would spur growth in a number of sectors.